How Do Orthopedic Mattresses Work

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8 Best Orthopedic Mattress Reviews 2020

Since we spend about 1/3 of our lives in bed, mattress plays an important role in our lives. Apparently, the kind of mattress you use can greatly affect your health and productivity. This is one of the reasons why many people say that “adulting” is not that easy. Adulting doesn’t only mean working and making a living to pay bills. It also means taking care of yourself more and investing in a good mattress that can improve your health. An orthopedic mattress is a god’s gift from heaven for all those sleepers who suffer from body pains. Besides, body pain is much more common among adults and you ignoring it won’t make it go away. As soon as possible, invest in the best orthopedic mattress which you can find below. We also included here some things to consider when buying one so enjoy reading.

Top Orthopedic Mattress Reviews 2020

#1. Classic Brands Mercer 12-Inch Hybrid Gel Memory Foam & Innerspring Mattress, Full

Designed and manufactured by Classic Brands, the Mercer Hybrid Mattress tops as the Editor’s Choice in this list. It combines individually wrapped steel coils with gel-infused memory foam and multiple layers of comfort foam. These multiple layers of foams create superior pressure relief plus a cooling sensation that can help reduce your nightly tossing and turning. Its gel-infused memory foam disperses body heat for a cooler sleep while providing comforting orthopedic support. Moreover, it is made of natural materials that are hypoallergenic and resistant to bacteria, mold, dust mites, and other allergens. Meanwhile, its innerspring layer reduces the motion transfer and provides optimum support as the base layer. It also meets all CertiPUR-US program standards to guarantee its performance, durability, and emissions.

    Weighs 68 pounds with 75 x 54 x 12 inches product dimension 5 inches of gel-infused memory foam on the top layer disperses heat to create a cooler sleeping surface 5 inches and 2 layers of 0.25 inches of comfort foams work together with the support layer to provide an ultimate sleeping experience 75 inches of comfort foam works with the base layer to reduce the uncomfortable feeling of coils on your back 8 inches of 13-gauge individually wrapped steel coil provide maximized support and minimizes the friction to the mattress CertiPUR-US certification guarantees that its used flexible polyurethane foam is independently laboratory tested and proven high-quality

Available in less than $400, this is one of the most affordable and the best orthopedic mattresses out there. Thus, we recommend it to budget-seekers who want a hybrid mattress with gel-infused memory foam.

    Ideal for budget seekers Slowly adjust to your body weight and temperature Offers a complete and luxurious stress-free support Retains the pressure-relieving properties of a traditional memory foam Automatically fills in and reshapes itself when you change positions
    Feels too hard for other sleepers Not recommended to be matched with adjustable beds The chemicals smell can give you a headache

#2. Snuggle-Pedic Mattress with Patented Airflow Transfer System, Queen

Designed and developed by a chiropractic doctor, rest assured that the Snuggle-Pedic mattress can help align your spine properly. Dr. Rick Swartzburg, D.C designed this mattress to keep your spine properly aligned regardless of your sleeping position. Thus, it is known as one of the top-rated by verified customers from different online stores like Amazon. Its kool-flow bamboo cooling cover works with its patented airflow transfer system which makes it 100x more breathable. Thus, you can sleep comfortably on a cooler mattress surface. Moreover, it is 100% made in the USA including its components and labor to ensure its durability and quality.

    Weighs 71.2 pounds with 80 x 60 x 10 inches product dimension Patented airflow transfer system uses ventilation holes or channels to make it 100x more breathable than other orthopedic mattresses Kool-flow cooler sleep technology built-in its soft micro-vented removable cover made of natural ivory bamboo provides an ultra-luxurious comfort Flex support technology offers an adaptive buoyancy to support your spine and allow you to move easily without motion transfer Snuggle-Flex comfort layers conform to the bumps and curves of your body to distribute your weight evenly Zero-risk industry-leading guarantee of 120-night sleep trial with free return and customization 20 years of limited warranty with double the coverage which start at half of its amount

For those who need a weightless pressure relief on their side and stomach, this is the ideal mattress. As one of the best orthopedic mattresses, it offers a lot of advanced features though very expensive. It’s also great for hot sleepers since it has great ventilation.

    Promote proper spine alignment Eco-friendly and easy to clean with removable bamboo cover 100x more breathable and cooler than regular mattresses Provides total muscle and joint pressure relief in all sleeping position Breathable and more comfortable to sleep on
    Very expensive Feels either too soft or too hard for other sleepers Starts to sag sooner after a few months of use

#3. Sunrising Bedding 8-Inch Natural Latex Hybrid Mattress, Queen

If you want a mattress that is designed for the most comfortable sleep and pushback support, then try Sunrising Bedding. This is suitable for side, back, and stomach sleepers with a luxury firm feel. It is also compatible with most bed frames so you will not have a hard time shopping for one. Whether you want it to lay it on the floor, flat or slatted frame, or box spring, it’s your choice. It is made of 100% natural latex material called Talalay that come from Thailand. Compared with Dunlop, this one is lighter and more breathable so you won’t get hot and sweaty. But aside from having more luxurious latex, it is also encased in a fabric that draws away heat and sweat. If you’re a hot sleeper, its temperature regulation feature would come in handy.

    Weighs 81.6 pounds with 80 x 60 x 8 inches product dimension Rare luxurious cashmere wool cover that is finer than sheep’s wool offers an unsurpassed plush with a lofty and airy-light sensation 100% organic Talalay latex from Thailand that is made by the Talalay technology makes it latex lighter and airier Latex cushion layer offers everything you need by conforming to your body curves and relieving pressure points 4 lines of independently pocketed coils support system with 2.2mm diameter are made from quenched and tempered steel 20 years of warranty guarantees durability and ductility which prevent sagging and sinking

Having a hybrid mattress doesn’t always mean you have to invest a huge amount of money. Available in less than $400, this Sunrising Bedding mattress is a legit proof that you can easily buy from Amazon. But aside from its luxurious feel and look, we also like that it’s antimicrobial.

    Budget-friendly and eco-friendly Made with anti-pilling, bacteria, and dust mites properties Provides a bouncy and conforming feel for a healthy sleep 100% made from natural latex without any synthetic and blended latex Can last for up to 20 years with finer and more organic materials
    The springs may start to feel uncomfortable after almost a year of use Feels harder for other sleepers and heavier to move

#4. Classic Brands 10-Inch Innerspring Mattress, Full

Another notable mattress from Classic Brands, this Pillow Top Innerspring is especially built with tempered steel wrapped innerspring coils. Each coil in this mattress works individually to provide an excellent value for support and undisturbed sleep. At the same time, it is meant to guarantee the mattress’ durability and long-term functionality for more years to come. With a firm feel, those orthopedic patients can enjoy better back support that can reduce their body pains. Most importantly, it is encased in an antimicrobial mattress cover to keep those mites and allergens away.

    Weighs 53 pounds with 75 x 54 x 10 inches product dimension Quilted pillow-top knit cover is designed to be naturally antimicrobial and resistant to mold, dust mites, and allergens 7 inches of 13-gauge individually wrapped coils are encased in separate pockets move and conform to your body curves better 2 fiber cushioning layers on the top and bottom layer of the innerspring provides a buffer that prevents the coils from poking you Steel coils provide a consistent weight and support distribution throughout the mattress to reduce the motion transfer

    Perfect for budget-seekers Ensures both comfort and support as an innerspring mattress Provides pressure relief especially for the entire back Antimicrobial and resistant to molds and pests that can disturb your sleep Extremely durable and long-lasting
    Too hard without an extra mattress topper The soft pillow top starts to lose its support easily after a few months only

#5. Continental Sleep 10-Inch Innerspring Eurotop Mattress, California King

Proudly made as one of the most popular mattress brands, Continental Sleep introduces a combination of mattresses and box springs. More than offering products with the highest standards, they make sure that each mattress’ durability, comfort, looks, and quality are present. As one of the best orthopedic mattresses, it supports your spine by relieving pressure on your back. Also, the bed comes fully assembled already and all its edges are well-balanced. You can sit on its corner or edge for hours without worrying that the bed will collapse anytime soon.

    Weighs 95 pounds with 83 x 72 x 10 inches product dimension 357 pieces of innerspring verticoil unit with 13 3.4 SH gauge unit and 6-gauge border ensure its full-body support 1 inch of stitched shoddy pad on each side of the mattress Damask fabric class B quilted with 2 x 3/8 inches poly foam with 1.5 whisper shield blue on the top layer 9 inches of wood foundation and a continental box that meets federal standards Fits Divan bases, platform or beds, box springs, and traditional beds

    Works with all types of bed frames Provides an orthopedic plush and reduces back pain Supports every inch of your spine Uniquely designed to provide you a deep and undisturbed sleep every night Manufactured in New York using premium materials
    A bit pricey Too heavy than the previous mattresses above The bounciness is a little disturbing for light sleepers

#6. Continental Sleep 99-3/3-1LP Elegant Mattress, Twin

When mattress searching already takes a lot of time, the best way to save time is to get a bundle. That is why this Continental Sleep mattress for orthopedic patients is a great deal. You don’t even have to break the bank for this set since the mattress alone costs less than $150 in Amazon! Given that it’s an orthopedic mattress, it provides firm back support so you can wake up without body pains. It also comes fully assembled and ready to use with a “made in the USA” guarantee from the brand.

    Weighs 40 pounds with 75 x 39 x 4 inches product dimension Fully assembled mattress with a gentle firm top layer that gives it a not too soft and not too hard feel 100% made in the USA ensures that it is manufactured using high-quality materials Beige stretch knit and quilted fabric encases the entire mattress to add beauty and quality to the mattress 357 pieces of steel coils complete its innerspring verticoil unit with 13 ¾ SH-gauge and 6-gauge border

    Lightweight and very budget-friendly Combines beauty, quality, and functionality in one bed Provides ultimate back support throughout the night Thin but supportive and comfortable
    The padding is too thin to eliminate the poking feeling of coils Not recommended for adults

#7. Spinal Solution Acura Collection Mattress, Queen

For a Hollywood collection, this Spinal Solution mattress is no doubt one of the most affordable options out there. It is uniquely designed to provide you a nice and cozy bed to enjoy a night of deep sleep. It is another pillow top mattress that has a thick layer of innerspring. It contains up to 800 coil count which serve as the mattress’ main support system. Together with SH-gauge unit foam encased with edges, it is supported with high-density foam for comfort. Moreover, it meets all the federal standards 1632 and 1633 fire code.

    Weighs 45 pounds with 80 x 60 x 12.3 inches product dimension Pillow top mattress with medium-firm feel gives it a perfect blend of comfort and support Pocketed coil technology provides it with conforming back support 800 coil counts complete its innerspring verticoil unit with 13 ¾ SH-gauge unit foam to provide your needed support Wood foundation with 8 inches of Continental box supports the entire mattress to avoid sagging and sinking

    Budget-friendly and lightweight Uniquely designed to give you an undisturbed sleep all night Can be handled and wheeled on the box to transfer it with ease Ready to use in less than 5 minutes after unboxing it
    Feels firmer than it is described

#8. Spinal Solution 10-Inch Mattress with Organic Aloe Vera Cover, Full

This Spinal Solutions orthopedic mattress is a thinner version of the previous one. It consists of pocketed coil technology for providing you with sufficient back support. It also has an additional pillow top layer for additional comfort layer. It even has organic Aloe Vera stretch knit fabric which keeps the mattress fresh and eco-friendly.

    Weighs 40 pounds with 75 x 54 x 10 inches product dimension Pillow top mattress with a plush feel that relieves pressure points Organic Aloe Vera stretch knit fabric keeps the mattress fresh and safe even for children Pocketed coil technology provides it with conforming back support Wood foundation with thick Continental box supports the entire mattress to avoid sagging and sinking

    Helps deliver a correct alignment for your back and neck spin Reduces the pressure on your sensitive joints to avoid more body pains Ideal for budget-seekers Safe and eco-friendly
    The pillow top layer is very thin Feels a little harder even with a pillow top

Things to Consider Before Buying Orthopedic Mattresses

An orthopedic mattress is specially designed to provide absolute support for your spine and entire body. It does not only help relieve back pains but also help improve your proper posture. So, here are some things to consider before buying an orthopedic mattress:

  • Do Your Homework

First things first, do your research before heading to the stores so you can save time on shopping. If your prospect brands/shops have online stores that offer their complete range of products, you can check them out first. Some brands even have their product guides posted on their website which can you might find helpful.

  • Avoid False Advertisements

Some brands will try to convince you that they offer medically approved orthopedic mattresses and that’s for sure. They may have orthopedic mattresses but they might not be certified as advertised. So if you ever encounter one, don’t be swayed easily without considering the first item. Besides, no brand will shout out that their products don’t have certifications and medical approval.

  • Consult Your Doctor

We don’t suggest that all doctors are expert on mattresses but they are experts on specific fields of medicine. This means that they are the best people to consult when the product concerns your body and overall health. They can give you some advice about choosing the best orthopedic mattresses that suits your current condition.

  • Check its Firmness and Stability

One of the things that most buyers always forget is the fact that a mattress’ firmness doesn’t justify its support. Getting a firmer mattress doesn’t mean it provides better support over other mattresses. A firm mattress may suit other sleepers but that is not always the case for those who suffer from arthritis. What they need are the best orthopedic mattresses that can reduce pressure on their sensitive and hurting joints. At the same time, it should not be too hard or too soft.

If you choose a mattress that is too soft, you might get a hard time moving and getting off the bed. If you need to move or change position more often to reduce your muscle stiffness, this will be a problem. But if you choose a too hard mattress, this will also make your injuries or diseases worse even worse. You might as well sleep on the couch or the floor.

  • Test the Mattress Yourself

Though advertisements and reviews can be really convincing, you can’t guarantee that an orthopedic mattress suits without trying it yourself. Thus, it is better to try the mattress yourself first than rely only on reviews, ads, and other marketing strategies. Once you’ve narrow down your search into just a few options, try to check them out personally on their physical stores.

Once you spot your target, lay down on the mattress for a few minutes. Don’t just touch and press on the mattress a few times. You have to feel the mattress with your entire body on top of it and see how supportive and comfortable it is.

  • How Comfortable and Supportive is it?

When testing a mattress, make sure that your body lay flat to feel if it can provide constant support. Feel how it responds to your weight after a few minutes of not moving before shifting to a different position. If it is comfortable and supportive enough, it should equally distribute your weight to reduce pressure on your spine. Once your neck, spine, and lower back are in good hands, you’re all good.


Have you have made up your mind on which orthopedic mattress you should buy? The best orthopedic mattresses may sell millions of products worldwide but they will never be the same. Each mattress feels unique depending on who is using it so there is no such thing as a perfect mattress for everyone. If you want to find the perfect one for you, you have to do the work and test the mattress yourself.

After all, you’re the one who will invest and enjoy its benefits for years. Compared with regular beds, orthopedic mattresses have special layers of materials that help ensure your proper posture and overall well-being.

How do orthopedic mattresses work

Don’t believe the myth that it’s possible to rotate and flip and orthopedic mattress easily, offering preventative relief. An Orthopedic mattress in general is going to have a higher cost attached. That being said, you shouldn’t have to go through the hassle to flip over your mattress when it begins to sag. Most likely, it’s just your foam wearing down. Which, in most cases can be replaced easily and sometimes free at cost just by reaching out to your mattress company. If a mattress does sag, it may cause issues like sciatica due to aggravation through the spinal joints.


You do need to think about how firm the mattress is. When thinking about how firm or soft you need your mattress to consider how you sleep, your height and you weight. If you sleep on your side and constantly change position, a soft mattress will be ideal. A soft or medium mattress should be used by anyone who constantly moves around. You might need a medium to firm mattress if you sleep on your back to ensure the right level of back support. Or, you could require a highly firm mattress if you are sleeping on your front and weigh more than fifteen stone. This stops the body from sinking into the mattress, putting pressure on your back.

Design & Materials

The first aspect you need to consider is the materials the mattress is made out of and also how it’s constructed. There are various materials including air chambers or cylinder, latex, fabric covered spring and memory foam. While latex bounces back ensuring comfort, memory foam mattresses provide a high level of support.

Quick Tip*A Great way to make sure the mattress you’re deciding to buy has quality materials, is to check the reviews. By going through these, you should be able to decipher if there is any issues you may run into down the road.

Comfort for your back

If you want to avoid joint pains, you need to make sure that there are no spaces between the body and the top of the mattress. This can be achieved by ensuring you have a mattress that provides support throughout the body when you are lying flat. There should be no stress or undue pressure on your spine, ensuring that you can get the right stance while sleeping. With the right stance, your head, neck, shoulders, and spine will all have the support they need.

With orthopedic mattresses, you will be able to take advantage of ergonomic design, ideal for pain relief on every area of the body. With a spongy, soft material, you’ll find that the mattress beautifully encourages the natural contouring of the body, maximizing level of contact.

Ultimately, then orthopedic mattresses are suitable for everyone. But they should especially be used by anyone with high levels of back pain or who someone who has trouble finding a comfortable position for a successful night’s sleep.

Viscoelastic memory foam

by Chris Woodford. Last updated: July 24, 2018.

D id you sleep well last night? Maybe you’re of the same mind as Benjamin Franklin, who famously said: "There will be sleeping enough in the grave." But if you’re like most people and you believe the key to a good day’s work is a good night’s rest, the best place to start is with your bed. You’re going to spend about 8 hours a night sleeping for your entire life—roughly 25–30 years of snoozing in all. With all that lying about doing nothing, doesn’t it make sense to find the most comfortable bed you possibly can? Many people are switching from traditional, sprung beds to mattresses made of memory foam that mold exactly to your body shape. What is this stuff. and just what gives it its memory? Let’s take a closer look and find out!

Photo: Viscoelastic foam sinks in where you press it, so it molds exactly to your body shape. At first sight, it just looks like particularly thick and squashy foam, but there’s much more to it than that. Ordinary foam springs straight back to shape, whereas viscoelastic foam takes much more time to return, which is why it’s called "memory" or "slow recovery" foam.

What’s different about memory foam?

Photo: Blastoff: Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin. The original memory foam was invented in the early 1970s by NASA scientists. Their mission? To develop a pressure-relieving material that would cushion astronauts in rocket cockpits against extreme forces during blastoff. The foam mattresses sold commercially are a much-improved version of NASA’s technology. Speaking about its TEMPUR® products, the leading manufacturer, Tempur-Pedic, claims its scientists have spent millions of dollars and a full decade turning TEMPUR into a better material. Picture courtesy of NASA on the Commons.

The trouble with sleeping is that your bones get in the way. Without bones, sleeping would be easy: if you were just a big blob of muscle and fat, imagine how comfortably you’d sleep! Unfortunately, though, all that body tissue is wrapped around a hard structure—your skeleton—that feels about as comfortable as the frame of a bicycle. A traditional bed has a mattress of soft material supported by several hundred coiled metal springs, coupled together so they move as one in what’s called an open or continuous coil. The whole thing tends to cave in when you lie on it, but it won’t respond exactly to your body shape. If you lie on your back, your buttocks will press further than the rest of your body leaving parts of your spine unsupported—potentially giving you backache the next day. If you lie on your side, your hips and shoulders will tend to press down more—supporting more than their fare share of your bodyweight and making you feel uncomfortable. If you’re sleeping with a partner on a mattress like this, your bodies tend to create a valley in the middle and roll together. A more sophisticated spring mattress will use a different approach: there are at least twice as many springs (sometimes 10 times more) arranged in small pockets, and each one flexes individually. Different areas of the mattress may have more or fewer springs made from different gauge wire to give more or less support. Pocket-spring mattresses like these give much more support, but they’re also heavier and more expensive because of all the extra springs. Better mattresses tend to have a higher "spring count."

Artwork: Three common types of mattresses compared. 1) Open coil mattresses have fewer springs coupled together so the surface all tends to move together. That can leave parts of your body unsupported. 2) Pocket spring mattresses have more springs that flex individually, giving better support. 3) Memory foam mattresses work (in theory) like an infinite number of springs, flexing exactly to your body shape.

The idea of memory foam is incredibly simple. Instead of sleeping on springs, you sleep on very thick foam that gives way where you press on it. Technically, it’s called viscoelastic : visco (from viscous) means it moves, somewhat reluctantly, when you apply a force; elastic means it returns to its original shape when you remove the force. The foam is temperature sensitive, so it tends to sink more as your body temperature warms it up. Very quickly, it molds to your unique contours. If you sleep on your side, the foam sinks in much more at your shoulders and hips so—in theory—your entire body is always perfectly supported and your spine remains straight. Your weight is spread more evenly and the pressure is relieved on places like your shoulders and hips. That’s why many people find memory foam mattresses help to reduce the symptoms of problems such as backpain and arthritis. If you change position or turn over, the mattress gradually molds to your new shape.

When the sales person hovers over you in a bed shop, they might try bamboozling you with a bit of science. Memory foam is better because it’s "viscoelastic," they tell you. It "was developed by NASA." But what exactly do they mean? Are these things helpful—or just a marketing con? Let’s dig a bit deeper and find out.

What is viscoelasticity?

Viscous means a material is thick and runny—treacle, for example, or thick lubricating grease. The more viscous something is, the longer it takes to flow from one place to another. Water isn’t very viscous (we say it has "low viscosity") so it flows quickly; honey is fairly viscous (it has high viscosity) so it flows slowly. Elastic means something will stretch or deform but return exactly to its original shape and size when you take away the stretching force. When we say things are made of "elastic," we mean they stretch easily and go back to shape again. There isn’t really any such material as "elastic": what we really mean is rubber or a stretchy plastic of some kind.

What, then, do we mean by viscoelastic ? A viscoelastic material is both viscous (changes shape slowly) and elastic (it returns to its original shape). Briefly, it deforms and returns to shape very slowly. That, by itself, is just a crude description: viscoelasticity is actually more subtle and interesting than that. If you apply a constant force to a lump of memory foam of constant area (so the stress is constant), it keeps deforming very slowly over a long period of time (something known in materials science as creep). Viscoelastic materials also respond differently according to how you apply forces. They’re stiffer (change shape more reluctantly) if you apply a force quickly than if you apply it slowly, which makes them very useful both for cushioning and absorbing impacts. There’s also a significant lag between when you deform a viscoelastic material and when it returns to shape (a typical memory-foam mattress takes 5–10 seconds to flex back to shape when you get off it—much longer than, for example, a foam sponge). That can be very useful for cushioning things, because energy is effectively absorbed and dissipated during the time lag (a phenomenon known as hysteresis )—a bit like the way energy is lost to "rolling resistance" as a bicycle or car tire squashes and flexes as it turns around. You could say that it’s hysteresis that puts the "memory" into memory foam.

Photo: Viscoelastic means something is both viscous and elastic. These everyday substances are more or less viscous, but none of them are elastic. On the left, peanut butter has high viscosity; wood glue flows better so its viscosity is lower; liquid soap flows even more quickly, so that’s next on our scale. On the right, water flows very easily so it has low viscosity. Viscoelastic memory foam is more viscous than peanut butter, so it would come somewhat to the left of this scale. Like all these substances it’s viscous because it deforms when you apply a force; unlike any of these other substances, it returns to shape when you take that force away again.

In short, viscoelastic materials have these four key properties:

  1. Creep: When you apply a constant force, they continue to stretch and deform very slowly.
  2. Relaxation: If you stretch or deform them, you’ll find you gradually need to use less force to keep them stretched by the same amount.
  3. Force-dependent: Applying a force slowly causes them to stretch more than if you apply a force quickly.
  4. Hysteresis: There’s a time lag between stretching and relaxing and you don’t get all your energy back when the material returns to shape.

Photo: Testing viscoelastic hysteresis: I took a lump of viscoelastic bed mattress in my left hand and a simple kitchen sponge (ordinary elastic foam) in my right. I squashed each one 10 times, allowed it to return to shape, and timed how long the process took. The ordinary sponge deformed and relaxed almost instantly, giving a total time of 6 seconds. The viscoelastic foam took about a minute to cycle through 10 deformations and relaxations because there’s a significant lag (hysteresis) each time. It takes much more energy to deform memory foam repeatedly, which is why it’s so good for cushioning things: unlike simple sponge foam, it absorbs energy when you deform it but doesn’t give all that energy back again when it relaxes.

What sorts of materials are viscoelastic?

If all this makes you think viscoelasticity is some sort of weird scientific invention that doesn’t exist outside laboratories, you’d be wrong. All sorts of everyday materials are viscoelastic to a greater or lesser extent, from obvious things like leather to much more surprising examples such as concrete, wood, and stone. Body tissue is also viscoelastic. Poke a finger into your stomach, your thigh, or even the skinny cheek of your open mouth and you’ll see it takes time to return to its previous shape. Now obviously we can’t make things like bed mattresses from people’s stomachs, so we have to use synthetic materials instead, namely plastics. Viscoelastic foams are made from foam containing about 15–75 percent polyether polyol and isocyanate compounds (much less than 15 percent and the foam doesn’t show significant viscoelasticity). Typical viscoelastic memory foams include Softcel VE-1100 from Covestro (formerly Bayer MaterialScience).

Why does memory foam get softer as it gets hotter?

Chart: The viscosity of memory foam decreases with temperature. In other words, memory foam moves more quickly as it gets hotter. In practice, that means a memory foam mattress tends to feel softer and less stiff after you’ve been lying on it for a time.

Most of us know that if you heat up a viscous liquid—like treacle—it becomes much more runny (less viscous). So it comes as no great surprise to find that the viscosity of memory foam also depends on its temperature. The hotter it gets, the less viscous (more flexible and "runny") it becomes. In the case of VE-1100, its viscosity at warm, room temperature (20°C or 68°F) is about 280 cSt (centistokes); at body temperature (

37°C or 98.6°F), its viscosity falls to something like 150 cSt. In other words, memory foam becomes significantly more flexible as it gets hotter—which is why you might find a memory foam mattress becomes much more squishy after you’ve been lying on it for a few hours. Increased humidity has a similar effect.

One of the problems with ordinary memory foam is that it isn’t breathable: the foam isn’t ventilated in any way, so it can’t dissipate heat or moisture. That can be a real problem with a mattress, because you’re necessarily going to be sleeping on it for about 8 hours at a time. Some memory foams are made from what’s called reticulated foam ; instead of just solid foam, they have a more open-celled structure that promotes ventilation and allows moisture to flow away from your body.

Is memory foam more hygienic?

High-density foam mattresses are also claimed to be more hygienic because bed bugs apparently don’t like living in the foam. In reality, bugs can lurk in your bedding, on your carpet, on your walls, and in plenty of other places in your bedroom—so this claim is a bit of an exaggeration. It may be true that memory foam beds reduce the problem of bed bugs, but scrupulous hygiene is really the only solution to that particular problem, not just a change in your mattress. Having said that, some memory foams are manufactured with antibacterial agents and deoderants added to the polymer mix, specifically to improve hygiene.

Photo: This mattress has a washable cellular cover to keep it cool and clean. Simply unzip it, throw it in the clothes washing machine, and your mattress looks as good as new. I’ve found that putting extra layers on top of a mattress like this can make it a little more comfortable but, at the same time, will reduce its ability to mold to my body shape. You need to experiment to find the most comfortable solution for your own body.

Viscoelasticity in everyday life

Photo: Foam earplugs ("ear defenders"), like the flesh-colored ones on the right, make a tight and effective seal because they’re viscoelastic; the light-gray plastic ones on the left are simply elastic and rely on flanges to make a seal instead.

Beds aren’t the only things that need to be comfortable, so mattresses and pillows are far from the only uses for memory foam. I recently invested in a new set of noise-isolating headphones and found that they shipped with a whole set of earplugs, some of them made from memory foam. You squash them tightly into your ear canals and, over time, they gradually relax again, sealing themselves into your ears and blocking out unwanted ambient sounds. Better quality foam earplugs (sometimes called ear defenders) are also made from memory foam—and it’s important to remember that when you’re pressing them into your ears. Wait a little while (roughly 30–60 seconds) with your finger pressed loosely on the end and you’ll find they slowly expand, stay in your ears, and make a much better seal than if you push them in and release your finger straight away. Why? Because they’re viscoelastic—and we need to make their hysteresis (the time lag between deformation and relaxation) work to our advantage.

Viscoelasticity crops up a great deal in the world of medicine. As you might expect, you can find memory foam in simple things like pressure-relieving cushions, but (much less obviously) viscoelasticity is also a feature of such things as hydrocolloidal wound-care dressings (used in blister plasters). You need to know about viscoelasticity if you’re an eye surgeon (viscoelastic gels are used to protect and stabilize parts of the eye during things like cataract and glaucoma surgery), if you’re a prosthetist (designer of limb "replacements"), or if you’re developing artificial skin that behaves as closely as possible like the real thing—to give just three examples.

It’s not every day that viscoelasticity makes history, but it certainly did on the morning of January 28, 1986 when NASA launched the Challenger Space Shuttle for the final, fateful time. Fluid seals and gaskets made from rubbery materials are typically viscoelastic, which means they fit well and seal effectively. But it also means how well they fit and seal can change critically with their operating temperature. On that particular day, it was freezing cold, so the O-ring seals in the Shuttle’s twin solid rocket boosters didn’t flex and seal effectively. Hot, high-pressure gases escaped, the fuel tanks exploded, Challenger was destroyed, and the seven people on board were killed.

What you need to know about mattresses

From firmness to spring density, we highlight the mattress features you need to know about if you want to find the mattress that’s right for you.

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Mattresses may seem simple enough, but when you’re at the shops you’re likely to come across various features and terms that you need to know about if you want to sleep soundly.

We’ve talked to our mattress experts to give you the answers you need before buying. Are ‘orthopedic’ mattresses really better for you? Does a greater spring density offer more support? What exactly is memory foam? Find out below.

Once you’re up to speed on mattresses, don’t forget to check out our mattress reviews and guide to the best mattress brands.

‘Bed-in-a-box’ mattresses

These types of mattresses are a recent addition to the market. They are sold online direct from manufacturer to consumer and delivered vacuum-packed into a box. Many bed-in-a-box mattresses come with long sleep trials, during which time you can return the mattress for a full refund if you decide you don’t like it.

To see which ones passed our rigorous tests, read our top bed-in-a-box mattresses.


Contrary to popular belief, a mattress doesn’t have to be hard to be good for you. How firm it is comes down to personal preference, as long as it does a good job of supporting your body.

We measure the shape of a person’s body at 36 different points both when standing up and lying down on the mattress – this way we can tell how well the mattress keeps your spine in the same shape as when you’re standing up.

For each mattress, check our body-support test scores for both lying on your back and lying on your side, and read our full mattress reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

This isn’t to be mistaken with memory foam; instead foam is simply a synthetic sponge-like material. It doesn’t react to your body heat like memory foam does, but it is more affordable and still offers strong support.

Often memory foam mattresses will have a top layer of memory foam and a base layer of firmer foam, in order to decrease the cost but still offer strong support.


Handles help with flipping, turning and positioning the mattress. Many new bed mattresses don’t need to be flipped over, but they may still benefit from being rotated from head to foot a few times a year.

Memory-foam mattresses are a good example of this – most manufacturers don’t advise flipping, but you should use the handles to rotate the mattress from time to time.


This is a less common type of mattress which features a core made up of layers of springy latex. These mattresses tend to be more expensive, but manufacturers claim that they are more durable and are better able to better keep their shape.

Latex mattresses can come in three varieties; natural, which is made using rubber tree sap; synthetic which uses a man-made rubber; and combination, which uses a bit of both.

Mattress covers

Some mattresses come with a removable cover, which is handy if you’re expecting to have to wash the mattress. If the mattress you want to buy doesn’t come with a cover, you can buy a cover separately.

Mattress toppers

A mattress topper is an easy way to make your mattress more comfortable. It sits on top of a mattress, offering a layer of memory foam or extra padding. You can buy a mattress topper for as little as £10 – although most cost more than that.

We’ve found that the quality of mattress toppers can vary, with some offering more comfort than others. Read our review of the best mattress topper brands to find out which you should go for.

Memory foam

This is a petroleum-based temperature-sensitive viscoelastic material, or in plain words, a man-made foam which softens and contours when subjected to body heat.

Mattresses are never made entirely of memory foam, but ‘memory foam mattresses’ are simply topped with a layer of memory foam. This makes the shape of the mattress change to fit the shape of your body, and it also tends to make the mattress feel warmer.

Everything you need to know about this increasingly popular type of mattress can be found in our memory foam mattresses guide – and find out which are our top memory foam mattresses.


Medical-sounding terms, such as ‘orthopedic’ and ‘posturepedic’, don’t necessarily mean a mattress is better for you. There are no restrictions on the term ‘orthopedic mattress’, so any mattress can use that description.

The body-support rating we give in our mattress reviews shows how well each mattress keeps your spine in its natural position. This is your best guide to finding one that’s good for your back.


Mattresses with spring systems are usually padded with man-made polymers, but some contain natural fibres such as horsehair or wool. These layers can affect firmness and breathability, both of which we test in every mattress. But more layers aren’t always better – the support from the springs is more important.

Pocket sprung

In pocket sprung mattresses, the springs are sewn into individual fabric pockets. Pocket sprung mattresses are the most popular type of mattress among Which? members – more than half of the members we surveyed about their mattress had bought a pocket sprung one.

Find out which excelled in our tests by reading our top pocket sprung mattresses.

Rolled-up mattresses

Some mattresses come vacuum-packed in a handy cotton bag, so you can take these rolled-up mattresses home with you instead of waiting for delivery. Now that you know about mattress features, you’re well-placed to pick the perfect mattress for you using our exclusive mattress reviews.

Spring density

When it comes to springs, it’s quality rather than quantity that’s important. The number of springs in your mattress is less important than how they’re constructed. Which? has tested mattresses with densities ranging from 440 to 1,085 springs and found wide variation in the level of support offered.

Orthopedic Mattress Review

What Is An Orthopedic Mattress?

An Orthopedic Mattress is designed to support without pressure points that will cause blood clots and bed sores. These beds are used by people who are bed ridden and have limited or no mobility. They are used in Hospitals and nursing homes by trained staff. The reason they must be trained staff is because the air mattresses used are multi chamber mattresses that can be inflated in sections to give the maximum support with the minimum pressure. These mattresses also give the spine the perfect alignment, weather you are a back sleeper or side sleeper.

Millions of people suffer, many needlessly, from induced pain and discomfort. In many cases this is due to poor sleeping conditions and unsuitable mattresses. Either, mattresses that are too old or of poor design and construction. In most cases this could be helped or even cured by the use of an Orthopedic mattress.

Our body needs it’s rest to repair and make good every night. Our back and spine are the most important part of our bodies. The spine carries our nerves communicating to our whole body. So a damaged back and/or spine is going to have an effect on our arms, legs and neck. If we are in pain this is going to have an effect on our ability to work. Time off work can be very costly to you and your employer. Then there’s the effect on home life, not being able to do the garden, clean the house, clean the car, lift the shopping into the car and play with the children.


The word Orthopaedic was first used by Nicholas Andry (1658-1742). Andry was the professor of Medicine at the University of Paris and Dean of the faculty of Physick. In 1741, at the age of 81, he published a famous book called Orthopaedia: or the Art of Correcting and Preventing Deformities in Children. Nicholas Andry coined the word “orthopaedics” in French as orthopedie, derived from the Greek words orthos (“correct”, “straight”) and paideion (“child).

So how did the word Orthopaedic come from being a word for children’s care to be a word to describe a mattress for adults?

Jean-Andre Venel was a Genevese physician who studied dissection at Montpellier at the age of 39, and in 1780 established the first orthopaedic institute, which was the first hospital dedicated to the treatment of children’s skeletal deformities. He is considered by some to be the father of orthopaedics or the first true orthopaedic surgeon in consideration of the establishment of his hospital and for his published methods.

In 1851 Antonius Mathysen, a Dutch military surgeon, invented the plaster of Paris cast. Many developments in orthopaedic surgery resulted from experiences during wartime. On the battlefields of the Middle Ages the injured were treated with bandages soaked in horses’ blood which dried to form a stiff, but unsanitary, splint. Traction and splinting developed during World War I. The use of intramedullary rods to treat fractures of the femur and tibia was pioneered by Gerhard Küntscher of Germany. This made a noticeable difference to the speed of recovery of injured German soldiers during World War II and led to more widespread adoption of intramedullary fixation of fractures in the rest of the world.

David L. MacIntosh pioneered the first successful surgery for the management of the torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee. This common and serious injury in skiers, field athletes, and dancers invariably brought an end to their athletics due to permanent joint instability. Working with injured football players, Dr MacIntosh devised a way to re-route viable ligament from adjacent structures to preserve the strong and complex mechanics of the knee joint and restore stability. The subsequent development of ACL reconstruction surgery has allowed numerous athletes to return to the demands of sports at all levels.

That’s a brief history of how Orthopaedics came from children’s care through to adult care. Somewhere along the line the mattress industry adopted the word to mean a mattress that will assist with the straightening of the skeletal. This is done by relieving pressure from the prominent points as we lay down. It is important to keep in mind that there is no government or industry specification for an Orthopaedic mattress.

Why do so many people suffer from back pain?

Back pain can come from many things. An accident, at home, in a vehicle or just slipping over can be the start of many peoples back pain and this is where our time in bed getting a quality nights sleep giving our body a chance to repair is very important. But if the mattress is not doing it’s job properly we will never repair just get worse. Back pain may also start from sleeping on the wrong mattress in the first place and of course if it is wrong to start with your back will just get worse until we end up with a permanent problem.

An Orthopedic Mattress would support your back in the correct position giving it a chance to repair. If you were to choose the type used in Hospitals you would be able to adjust it to suit your changing back as it repairs.

If your back pain is not caused by an accident and then it’s a good chance that you are sleeping on the wrong mattress. This may be a low quality mattress or just the wrong type of mattress for you. No two people are the same shape, size and weight and therefore no two people need the same mattress.

All mattresses deteriorate with time and a cheap mattress more quickly. A cheaper mattress will only last about 5 years with good care and after that they will loose their support and back problems will start here. This is what an Orthopedic mattress is designed to provide for a much longer period.

The spine is quite robust and fortunately can recover very well on it’s own with the correct rest on the correct mattress.

The normal shape of our spin from a side view is like a soft S. Where the spine turns out twice it is important to maintain this shape. If we don’t maintain this shape either with an Orthopedic mattress or with a good quality mattress with Orthopedic properties, problems with the back can develop.

Mattress Benefits, Support and Comfort

Many people buy an Orthopedic mattress to get the support required for a healthy nights sleep and only an Orthopedic mattress can cope with the change in our backs needs. A fixed inner coil sprung mattress can not be changed as our back shape changes with the different type of work we do. If you work at a desk all week and then spend the weekend doing gardening or a energetic type of sport, then your back is not going to be the same shape after hectic as it is when sitting all day. An Orthopedic mattress is designed to cope with these changes. Either by changing the Air pressure in the mattress or by the foam conforming to the change in the shape of your back. If you have a foam type mattress then even that has a life and must be changed as soon as it doesn’t give the support required.


Orthopaedic mattresses come in many guises. The traditional sprung mattress with or without foam top, all foam mattress either made from Latex or memory foam, water beds and Air mattress.
The sprung mattress supports the body metal springs moulding to the shape of the body. With time the springs will wear out and not perform as they did when new and they are an old fashioned way to mould to a perfect shape, the more springs the more support and more flexibility over the area of the body.

A memory foam mattress has greater flexibility than a sprung mattress and supports by heat and weight, encapsulating the warmth to the muscles and joints, for optimum recovery conditions. This can also be an irritation to those who get warmer than is comfortable. Some memory foam mattresses tend to off gas when they are new.

A Latex mattress has many of the same properties as the memory foam but without the heat and off gassing. This is made from a natural product.

Water beds are good for all body support and good for temperature controlled sleep surface. Firmness can be controlled by the amount of water added and the sponge level, this also helps keep movement and noise to a minimum.

An Air mattress has it all. No metal springs to wear out, dual adjustable support, no heavy water that may leak and cause damage, foam to shape and support. The most important factor in an Air mattress is the fact you can adjust its firmness to suit any individual. This is the same mode of support as used in Hospitals.

Orthopaedic mattresses are generally more expensive than normal mattresses because of the materials used and the careful construction. Despite this, orthopaedic mattresses are popular purchases, and are very highly rated. Several reviews expressed satisfaction at having paid more for better quality sleep each night. But some people who purchased an orthopaedic mattress regretted the decision, but more often this had more to do with the construction of a specific model of mattress rather than its orthopaedic effects. An extremely prevalent recommendation among both mattress distributors and purchasers is to understand your own personal preferences about mattress construction, firmness and thickness before buying an orthopaedic mattress, as these preferences and expectations can have a massive effect on purchase satisfaction and sleep quality.

The cost of an orthopedic mattress

An Orthopedic mattress is not cheap, especially the type used by Hospitals and nursing homes. However there are other types of mattresses with Orthopedic qualities.

We typically spend around 24 years of our life in bed. This much longer than we spend driving a car or watching TV. So we should take more care over the purchase of a mattress than the buying of a car or sofa. A good quality mattress with Orthopedic properties should give us 10-20 years of service. If we were to spend £2,000-£4,000 on a quality mattress then it would cost £200 per year or less than £4 per week or .55p a night. Not too much to pay for a good nights sleep, long term health advantages and a chance to repair the back.

It’s never too late to buy an Orthopedic mattress and many of us don’t even consider the options until the second half of our lives. This is because in the first half of our lives the back can repair far quicker and is more forgiving.

If we look at in this way, the cost of an orthopedic mattress, which may last 10 to 20 years, is actually very low.

Things to consider before you purchase a Mattress

Things to consider

  • How good is your existing mattress? Check for faults and negative points. e.g Is it too soft, too firm. Do you hammock or is your back arched? Did you sleep better on another mattress? If so, where and what sort of mattress was it? Take all these things into consideration when looking for a new mattress.
  • Check the features of other types of mattress available. Air mattress, Latex foam, Memory foam, fluid and multi pocket spring. Make a list of pro’s and con’s.
  • Think about how you and your partner sleep. Side sleepers in general require a softer mattress, front sleepers require a firm mattress and back sleepers require a medium mattress. This is a very general guide.
  • What is the maximum size your room will accommodate? If you can go to a King size or Super King size this will give you more elbow space. In a normal Double you will disturb each others sleep.
  • Check your budget and consider our comments above. As we said a quality mattress is good value at the end of the day.
  • Some people have allergies? Check the type of Memory foam as this can give off vapours that can effect people. Take a look at mattresses made from all natural organic fibres.
  • Do you sleep with the window open at night as this effects the efficiency of a Memory foam mattress.
  • Are you a hot or cold sleeper? E.g. Some people tend to get hot in the night whilst others tend towards feeling cool. Hot sleepers may find cheap memory foam mattresses too warm at night (although the more expensive versions have clever air ventilation designs).
  • Check the density of memory foam the chemical content and the number of layers. Some are very heavy making it impossible to turn.
  • Go to a showroom to check the mattress you are thinking of buying. You wouldn’t buy a car without research and driving it. Spend time on the mattress as foam mattresses take time to react and your body needs time to relax.
  • When buying online make sure you have done your research as most companies will not accept returns. This is understandable for health reasons. But if the mattress is not as advertised you are entitled to your money back. Always research all the angles.
  • Always go for the biggest mattress you can afford and with the most comfort layers. Mattress manufacturers have got some amazing features to afford you a good nights sleep and the most comfort available. Heating, cooling and massage pads are among the things to consider.
  • Also consider a mattresses with gimmick features like the use of magnets (for magnetic therapy), or the inclusion of an impregnated aroma that helps relaxation and improves sleep based upon the principles of aromatherapy.
  • Always check with your doctor if you have allergies or serious back alignment problems. Your doctor will be able to tell you if your choice of mattress is a wise one or not.

Mattress sizes and formats

The plan below gives standard industry bed sizes in the UK for all mass produced beds and mattresses in inches. These sizes are of course for standard units only and many manufacturers produce additional sizes and sometimes different shaped (e.g. round end) beds and mattresses for RV’s and Yachts.

UKmattress sizes in feet and inches are given below.

· Single – 3ft by 6ft 3in (91cm by 190cm)

· Small Double – 4ft by 6ft 3in (120cm by 190cm)

· Double – 4ft 6in by 6ft 3in (140cm by 190cm)

· Kingsize – 5ft by 6ft 6in (150cm by 200cm)

· Super Kingsize – 6ft by 6ft 6in (180cm by 200cm)

Both king-size and super king are 3 inches longer than single and double bed variants.

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